Everyone is likely to experience an open wound at some point in his or her life. An open wound is an injury that involves external or internal break in body tissue, usually involving the skin.
Most wounds are minor and can be treated at home, but what if things get more serious and you are in the middle of nowhere, with no medication at your disposal, no phone, no hospital to rush to and basically nothing and no one around to help you?
Taking the proper action in this stage is critical. Never underestimate an open wound in a survival situation. If there’s a lot of bleeding or the bleeding lasts for more than 20 minutes, you should learn by heart what might literally save your life in what follows. But first things come first…
Types Of Open Wounds
There are several types of injuries, depending on their cause:
Occurs when the skin rubs against a hard surface, for example road rash. There is usually not much bleeding.
Occurs when a sharp object or tool penetrates your skin and tissue. They bleed a lot and if it’s deep, tendons, ligament and muscles can be damaged.
It’s an irregular tearing of the skin. They are usually caused by accidents with tools and can bleed extensively.
Refers to a small hole caused by a long, sharp object, such as a nail or a needle. They may not bleed so much, but can damage internal organs and cause infection.
It’s a partial or complete tearing away of the skin and tissue (violent accidents, explosions or gunshots or even animal bites). They bleed heavily and rapidly.
Things To Know And To Avoid
No matter how serious or superficial the wound might seem to you, the best thing to do is keep calm, determine the type of wound if possible and then concentrate on the surrounding environment for any kind of help. And remember! Staying focused increases your chances of avoiding further complications and can literally save your life.
Keep in mind that you must, by all means avoid infections, as most open wounds are caused by dirty, contaminated objects that carry different types of bacteria and organisms. An infected wound may present a foul odor, pus, fever and pain.
Although, to some extent, swelling is the body’s immune response to a foreign material that caused the wound, do your best to avoid inflammation, as it can make the wound area red, hot and painful. Whether because of the pain or the trauma itself, loss of function can be temporary or permanent, depending on the extent of the wound and the damage to the affected area.
Stop the bleeding!
This can be done by applying gentle pressure over the wound, preferably with a piece of clean material, for 20 to 30 minutes. Avoid checking frequently to see if the bleeding has stop, as this may prevent blood from clotting.
If a wound is gaping
You can bring the edges together with adhesive tape cut or even rough clothing material, in the form of a “butterfly”.
Clean the injury
Proceed carefully and remove any foreign object. For this you can use your bare hands. If there is no water around, the best you can do is Leave the wound open to allow the drainage of any pus resulting from infection. As long as the wound can drain, it generally will not become life-threatening.
Mother Nature Can Help You
As we all know, nature can provide many solutions. A large number of plants or pastes are equally used by tribes and folklore traditions in some countries for treatment of cuts and wounds. However, an unfriendly environment can deprive you of most of antiseptic and anti inflammatory plants, but then again, you might get lucky:
- Living cactus bandage. This is a solution you’ll be able to use only in the desert. The prickly pear is a cactus with round pads that contain astringent and antiseptic qualities. Take one of the pads and then peel it. Put the raw flesh over the wound and bandage it to help healing.
- Pine sap is a natural antiseptic. It is easy to apply. All you have to do is “pop the lump like a boil and the antiseptic will run like honey” says John McPherson, who teaches survival skills to US Army Special Operations Command instructors. After you repeat the procedure of cleaning your injury make sure you always dress the wound.
Extreme Solutions Or Solutions For The Extreme
Studies have revealed that you can actually use ants to stitch a wound in the wild, but if you can’t get any antibiotics-related help and the wound has become severely infected and ordinary debridement is impossible, consider maggot therapy, despite its hazards:
- Expose the injury to flies for one day and then cover it.
- Check daily for maggots.
- Once maggots develop, keep wound covered but check daily.
- Remove all maggots when they have cleaned out all dead tissue and before they start on healthy tissue. Increased pain and bright red blood in the wound indicate that the maggots have reached healthy tissue.
- Flush the wound repeatedly with sterile water or fresh urine to remove the maggots removed.
- Bandage the wound and treat it as any other injury. It should heal normally.